Did Carlos García intend to become a standard-bearer for his native Venezuela's cuisine? Who knows. But the bespectacled chef's Brickell restaurant, Obra Kitchen Table, is a standout in a neighborhood where big money and trends often trump ingredients and good cooking. While he and his team are plating dishes such as classic Venezuelan chicken soup ($14) and a clam salpicón with smoked avocado in a crisp arepa ($19), García is also lending a hand in the kitchen at Camillus House through his nonprofit, Recipes for Change. His award-winning restaurant Alto still operates in the heart of Caracas amid political strife and social upheaval. He also works with other chefs to make a dent in the South American country's massive food shortages through the nonprofit Barriga Llena, Corazón Contento (Fully Belly, Happy Heart). Obra's hours are noon to 3 p.m. and 6 to 10:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, noon to 11:30 p.m. Friday, and 6 to 11:30 p.m. Saturday.
Readers' choice: Geoff Lee (Byblos)